Check this video out in our series “The Peer Reviews”, where we discuss Marquee Moon by Television. My co-presenter Steve Peer was Television’s roadie and has previously unheard insights about the band and its music, including stories about Brian Eno, Patti Smith and other aspects of their development.
Also The Police – Synchronicity II. This song foretold a lot about the times we live in and I still go back to it for some stimulation in dark times.
Our tribute song for Bernie Torme is now released with a contribution to the Teenage Cancer Trust. Get copies of the songs on Amazon, iTunes, Spotify etc. There are both male and female vocal versions.
Prince defies classification. Funk, Rock, Jazz, Pop, fusion, ambience and so on. In this video we take a look at one of his early tracks and look at his ability to seamlessly fuse genres, genes and jeans.
The last few days have been something of an emotional roller coaster for me, as someone who is the same age as Prince and who has followed his career from start to finish. Prince Rogers Nelson’s untimely death at 57 has deprived the world of one of its greatest polymaths and on Friday I was compelled to give a talk on his life, creative contribution and perform some of his songs at Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Money Lounge. Whilst preparing to give the talk I listened to Marvin Gaye’s rendition of “Abraham, Martin and John” and finally broke down in tears – I always think “better out than in” 🙂 and 10 minutes of uncontrollable sobbing gave me enough energy to carry the rest of the day without losing control. I also recalled our wedding day some 22 years ago – we had “The Beautiful Ones” as our wedding dance, much to the surprise of my Father in Law, once the screaming started … 🙂 As part of my own cathartic release of energy surrounding this very sad event, what then can I say about the man behind the controversy, sexual ambiguity, a symbol which journalists could not type on a keyboard and platform shoes that has not been said already in the media?
Celtic Angel is a tribute to Bernie Tormé R.I.P. 1952-2019, band leader, guitarist and songwriter for Ian Gillan and Ozzy Osbourne. The song was written by Peter Cook who first met Bernie by accident in 2010 at his studio, whilst recording a song for a friend. A friendship evolved and Peter was privileged to perform with this gentle giant on a number of occasions. Bernie reflected this in his own words on cover of one of his albums after Peter spent some time with Bernie on his renaissance.
Celtic Angel reflects many of Bernie’s influences, with various nods and winks to Deep Purple, Hendrix, Ozzy, Bill Nelson and his infamous Big Muff effects pedal which Bernie used to push his Marshall amps over the cliff edge to ear splitting volumes. Featuring sitars, guitars turned up to 11 and some soaring sonics that give a wink and a nod to the great man from the emerald isle. Although Celtic Angel was conceived in a basement, it is a truly global production, featuring Gareth Dylan Smith from New York City, Tim Hands from the North of England, David Bourke and Rosie Horne from Kent. Video production by Mark Duffy.
“What a sad day. We’ve lost another great musician. Bernie was a gentle soul with a heart of gold. He will be dearly missed. I send my sincere condolences to his family, friends and fans. Rest in Peace Bernie.”
“I always enjoyed our time spent talking about music, business, philosophy and politics. Bernie was so much more than a guitar player. Thank you for your time and patience with an apprentice.”
Celtic Angel is released worldwide on April 23 with a contribution to the Teenage Cancer Trust. I hope that you will join me in celebrating the life of one of rock’s gentle giants.
I was delighted to interview Steve Peer recently. Steve started life in a host of bands, ending up playing at CGBG’s with The Talking Heads alongside TV Toy, The Sex Pistols, Iggy Pop and so on.
He was asked to join Bill Nelson’s Red Noise and has a set of fascinating stories about how to work in the music business with transferable lessons for anyone trying to achieve success. Great insights for everyone.
Here’s a rare clip of the beginning of the 2nd Red Noise that not ever happened – Steve played drums on “Ideal Homes” and “Instantly Yours”.
And this is the wonderful John Peel introducing Steve’s band TV Toy.
Under lockdown, I have had a little bit of time to compose some music in honour of Prince. The track “Paisley Blues” is now available on Bandcamp together with my interpretation of a classic and another song I wrote for Prince in 2012 “What U C is What U Get. Take a listen to Paisley Blues:
The track was the product of a late night recording session and came together almost instantly as a result if a happy interaction between a piano line and guitar. To read my eulogy to Prince from four years ago, go to The Prince of Innovation.
Get in touch for our versions of Purple Rain and Sign ‘O The Times via email. Here’s a memory of one of the last times I saw the man. Do check our interviews out with band members at Interviews with Music Giants.
Buy the songon all platforms. EVERY click counts towards chart success and a cup of coffee gets you three copies. Please gift the song to weary Remainers or Leavers in regret, or just your Brexity friends. Just click the images and follow through:
The enigma formerly known as Bill Nelson. Photograph by Martin Bostock
I attended the concert of legendary musician and artist Bill Nelson just recently, at 70 years old. What can I say? Well very little needs to be said. It was sheer perfection and I’m in the privileged position to be able to invite you to attend the concert yourselves ….
For just one month you have a unique opportunity to view the concert online via Plectronica. Bill was accompanied by enigmatic ambient artist Harold Budd, who worked with Brian Eno amongst many others.
I was extremely saddened to hear of the death of Chas Hodges, one half of “Cockney novelty act” Chas & Dave. Of course, what lies behind all great success stories is the sheer hard work and preparation. It’s rare to have success in one easy move. In fact Chas & Dave were no novelty or a product of luck. Chas Hodges worked with The Beatles, Bill Haley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Gene Vincent, Joe Meek, Richie Blackmore and Labi Siffre. He was also sampled by Eminem. This is testament to the importance of preparation and sheer hard work in success.
Chas’ death resonated strongly as I’d only just finished recording a song in honour of Chas & Dave last month. I’m sure he would have loved its embedded non political correctness and cheeky allusions to Cockney rhyming slang. Now we’ll never know 😦
I’d heard a round of criticism from people in social media that I’d dared record a Chas & Dave song. These people of course are not musical, just musical snobs. A quick analysis of any one of their songs will tell you just why they are so popular. Great vocal syncopation, superb hooks, tight integration of the rhythm section to the words and a number of great earworms in every song. Not a second wasted. 20 minute Genesis songs they are not, but that’s a different skill altogether. There is a tremendous skill in writing a 3 minute pop song. It was a really hard job to bring these elements together in a respectful way in the song and I hope we gave a nod and a wink in the right direction.
I was extremely lucky as I saw Chas & Dave some 300 yards down the road from my house when they played a festival in my town. I could not believe that people of all ages knew all the words to their songs and the sheer euphoria of their performance and musicality. True professionals.